Buffalo City Council primary sees most challenges since 2007

Five of the nine Buffalo City Council seats saw Democratic primary challenges on June 27, 2023, the highest rate since 2007 when there were also five challenges. In 2019, the previous election for city council seats, four seats saw challenges. In 2015, only two were challenged.

In the three 2023 city council primary races in which a Democratic incumbent was being challenged, all three incumbents won. The Buffalo City Council general election will be held November 7, 2023. Four of the five races that saw Democratic primary challenges will feature rematches in the general election as the candidates that lost the Democratic primaries were nominated by minor parties.

In contrast to the competitive Democratic primaries, seven of the nine Republican primaries were canceled because there were no candidates. The two Republican primaries that were held each had only one candidate. This follows the pattern of previous election cycles—in both 2019 and 2015, only one Republican ran for a city council seat.

The increase in Democratic primary challenges for the city council comes two years after Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D) defeated India Walton (D) to win his fifth term. Walton initially defeated Brown in the 2021 primary, receiving 50% of the vote to Brown’s 45.5%. Brown proceeded to run a write-in campaign for the general election and defeated Walton with 58.2% of the vote to her 39.4%. Walton ran for an open city council seat in 2023 but lost the primary to her opponent.

Before Walton’s challenge in 2021, Brown had won every Democratic mayoral primary since he was first elected to the office in 2005. He won his 2017 primary with 51.2% of the vote, with his closest competitor at 34.9%, and was uncontested in his 2013 primary.